Jersey Numbers: Random or Reason?

Everyone wears the same shirts, same pants, and same socks, but a player’s number is the only visible aspect on the field that sets them apart from everyone else.

Adam Niman

Have you ever waited in line, hoping and praying that your favorite jersey number was still available when it was your turn to pick? If so, you’re not alone. But the bigger question is: what is the story behind these numbers? What is the meaning behind that specific number?
For as long as sports have been around, numbers have been a prominent part of individuality. Everyone wears the same shirts, same pants, and same socks, but a player’s number is the only visible aspect on the field that sets them apart from everyone else. It highlights an important value they hold and brings it onto the field with them. Spectators refer to players by their number, and on the field, their number becomes their persona and a large part of their athletic identity.
Most sports have a number that a certain player, or a couple of players, has made universally popular. In soccer, the number 10 is typically known to be the best player on the field, worn by some of the greatest players of all time, such as Messi, Neymar Jr., and Pelé. Thanks to basketball player Micheal Jordan, the number 23 has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. Wayne Gretzky has influenced millions of young hockey players to pick number 99.
A prime example of this is B-CC ice hockey player Mathew Duffy. Duffy has been a long-time Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and his favorite player is Sidney Crosby. Crosby wears the iconic number 87, and as a reflection of Duffy’s long-time admiration, he chooses to wear the same number. Role models spark determination in a player, and by bringing this association with them on the field, they play a better, more confident game.
For other Baron athletes, the inspiration behind their number is not always a world-class athlete but a family member. When Junior Owosu, a B-CC football player, steps onto the field, his number brings his brother with him. When asked about the significance of the number 8 on his jersey, he shared, “When my brother played football at B-CC, he wore [the number] 8.”
On the other hand, some Barons have a more personal and emotional connection to their number. The significance can be as little as a favorite number or a birthday, as reflected through football player Will Margolis, who chose the number 26, his date of birth. As he approached the line for jerseys, he happened to be near the back. When asked about this, his eyes lit up as he recalled the memory. “I was very relieved to see the number 26 still available, calling my name.”
For others, their numbers are held close to their hearts as a special moment in their lives they want to remember forever. Antonia Lozana, a senior on the field hockey team has been the number 13 since her freshman year. To her, the number represents a time when she felt accepted into a new community. She explained, “It was given to me by my club team, Washington Wolves, and I immediately felt like I was a part of a team and a new community.”
Barons across all sports carry people and inspiration into their games with them through their special numbers. Jersey numbers are a portrayal of what is important to each player, and this number distinguishes every player on the field. For some, the number tells a story of a player’s past, family, and aspirations, making the blue and gold numbers so significant. It is a key component of why they carry the effort, grit, and intensity that it takes to be a Baron athlete.